Let us spray: A guide to always smelling exquisite
Posted: Sep 19 2017
Your scent is a powerful thing. The way that something smells can lure you in or repulse you within seconds. Historically, perfumes have been created to honour great lovers, to woo those touted to be the most beautiful and for the purposes of attracting a lover. Since the beginning of time, humans have known about pheromones and how these chemical substances can affect their interaction with the opposite sex. When perfumes were first introduced they were supposed to offer the wearer a pleasant smell that alluded to sophistication, sensuality and stature.
Perfumes were there to enhance the already present animalistic human scents of each person.
Today, professional perfumers are highly regarded and employed by designers who make a fortune with signature scents specifically created to represent their label.
“Perfume's like a piece of clothing, a message, a way of presenting oneself ... a costume ... that differs according to the woman who wears it,” Paloma Picasso famously said.
Perfume is a part of your look
Just like your fashion sense and personal style, a perfume can become a part of your personality. Today, there are literally thousands of different fragrances available to suit just about anyone’s idea of style. Of course, we’re all aware of the well-known designers with stellar scents. Chanel, Calvin Klein, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent are among the regulars listed as perfume industry stalwarts. Younger designers and brands have joined the ranks too. Nowadays fashion design and perfume creation seem to go hand-in-hand. (Very much like pleasure and sex toys in the 21st century. Oops... We said it!) The likes of Tom Ford, Elie Saab and Diesel have created fragrances to rival the classics and developed scents that perfectly align with the modern stylista. So, if you’re looking for a new scent to start a new season then, by all means, consider the fragrance your favourite fashion designer is offering.
Why it matters
The perfume you choose to wear is often less a personal experience and more about how others experience you. Naturally, you want to smell of a fragrance you like but the people
around you will be the ones truly enjoying (or not) your smell.
Sarah Jessica Parker, style icon, Hollywood celebrity and perfumer, believes your perfume is far more important than clothing or accessories. She told The Cut, "It's immediately communicating more than your clothes, which we think tells our story, right? But clothes don't invade anybody else's space.” She continued, "You know how you feel when someone hugs you and they're wearing a fragrance you don't care for and it's stuck on you and you go to the ladies' room and you try to really carefully, discreetly wipe it off? Or gentlemen in the old days, who liked really strong cologne? It's unique in that way. Your makeup doesn't do that. Your bag doesn't do that, your shoes, or your clothes, but fragrance completely lives in both worlds."
You can find something truly unique if you look hard enough
But because perfume is such a personal thing you may want to dig a little deeper than the popular designers to find a scent for you. There’s a world of niche perfumes that remain undiscovered by the masses but are often completely remarkable. If you’ve heard of niche fragrances then you’ve likely stumbled across the controversial perfume house Etat Libre d'Orange and their infamous Sécrétions Magnifiques. This fragrance was launched in 2006 and is still considered terribly contentious. It is said to smell of sweat, blood, sperm and saliva. According to the designer’s write-up, “Sécrétions Magnifiques is as real as an
olfactory coitus that sends one into raptures, to the pinnacle of sensual pleasure.” The idea is that Sécrétions Magnifiques has been created to smell like a hot, sticky and primal sexual encounter. Now as seductive as that sounds, this fragrance has been aggressively attacked by many reviewers. Some have given into the dark side and fallen in love with its twisted version of sensual scents. But those who hate it have picked on the metallic notes and a sweetness that borders on soured milk or garbage baking in the sun. Those who love this fragrance are seduced by the discomfort it creates. They fall for its disturbing qualities and revel in its ability to offer both a piquant blood accord as well as a sickeningly rancid milk accord.
Sécrétions Magnifiques is a heinous perfume. But it’s also an excellent example of what the niche fragrance industry offers. It’s more art than it is fragrance, it requires explanation and it unnerves the majority of people who experience it. Of course, the other niche perfumes in the marketplace are created to offer you a sense of finery. You can expect a similar feeling to what you might enjoy when donning a bespoke piece of jewellery. So, if you want something that’s steeped in allure, difficult to categorise and only available in lesser-known boutiques, then niche perfumes are for you.
If you’re not feeling brazen, go for a classic
Because there are so many different fragrances available, you’re spoiled for choice. But this also means you could make the wrong choice if you’re not informed. If you’re feeling lost about which perfume to choose then consider the classics and the designers who are behind them. Design houses with a couple of classic fragrances behind their name generally know what they’re doing and have employed expert perfumers to create the very best in olfactory creations. It comes as no surprise that the top ten list of women’s fragrances for 2017 includes the likes of Chanel, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and Thierry Mugler. These designers are not new to the industry and yet their fragrances remain relevant and popular. Not all of these classic scents will suit you but you’re bound to find something truly beautiful to make your own. And when your own unique, natural smell blends with something beautifully fresh like Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, you’ve hit gold in the fragrance side of life.
Perfume is linked to emotions
Spend some time reading a romance novel or diving head first into the giddy decadence of erotic fiction and you’ll be entranced by the descriptions of smells. In your Mills and Boon novels, you can expect the musk of the manly “Adonis” to overwhelm the jasmine-smelling heroine. Whereas in Fifty Shades of Grey, Anastasia Steele finds herself affected by Christian Grey’s sophisticated, crisp smell. “I inhale his clean, wholesome scent. He smells of freshly laundered linen and some expensive body wash. It’s intoxicating,” she says.
Scent has a powerful link to memory, moods, emotions and behaviour. One whiff of a familiar smell and you’ll be transported back to where you first encountered it. Scents can create dynamic memories – think about the one smell that reminds you of your mom. It might be something as mundane as the smell of chicken curry or something fabulous like Elizabeth Arden Red Door. Whatever reminds you of your mom will likely always take you back to your childhood or transport you to a specific time and place you experienced with her.
Because scents are powerful you must pay attention to how you use them
Where you apply your perfume matters and yet many of us don’t give it a second thought. But a spritz across your clothing is simply not going to do. You want to make your perfume last longer while making sure it’s not too strong and overwhelming for others.
Your pulse points are the warmest spots on your body as the blood is close to the surface of the skin. And perfume is activated by the warmth and body heat so spritzing fragrance on these points will make it last longer. And it’s great to know that at five in the afternoon you’ll still be smelling great. The obvious pulse points are behind your ears and on your wrists. So, absolutely spray your fragrance on these specific spots. These are also the areas that other people will smell as you hug them, shake hands with them or work in close proximity to them. A high-quality fragrance will waft from these two points as you move about, to the delight of the people you interact with.
But there are other pulse points that many people are unaware of but that must be spritzed for you to always smell delightful. Your collarbones are a good place to spritz as your whole decolletage is a warm area. Your knees and feet deserve some attention too. You don’t have to only use perfume on the upper half of your body. To feel like you’re fully enveloped in your signature scent, make sure to spritz your fragrance behind your knees and on the top of your feet. And, for a final touch, do a very light spritz of perfume in your hair. While this is not a pulse point, perfume easily attaches to your hair fibres and if you use any product in your hair the perfume will cling to that too. Perfume contains alcohol which can dry out your hair so don’t spray directly onto your hair but rather onto your brush and then comb it through.
Here’s how to make your fragrance last longer
If you spritz your perfume on the pulse points mentioned above you shouldn’t have to reapply the fragrance throughout the day. But if your skin is particularly dry you may find that your fragrance evaporates quicker than expected. A trick to ensuring your fragrance “sticks” to you is to apply it to freshly moisturized skin. Opt for using a thick cream rather than a lotion and then spray the perfume on top of that. Make sure you use a scent-free aqueous cream or petroleum jelly. Both of these moisturisers will help the perfume to stay in place and prevent evaporation. Alternatively, find out if your favourite fragrance has a body cream in its range. Matching your cream with your fragrance will leave you positively glowing in an aura of your best perfume. Imagine your entire body doused in something as luxurious as Thierry Mugler’s Alien.
Also, most perfumes don’t have a sell-by date. Many industry experts suggest a perfume shouldn’t be kept for longer than a year but if you store it correctly there’s no reason you can’t keep it for much longer. Store all of your fragrances in a dark closet or a closed box, avoiding exposure to sunlight and air, and keep the lid on.
Perfume is a part of your personality
If you haven’t experimented with different perfumes, you might not know what really suits you. Your personality should dictate the type of fragrance you wear. Choosing to wear a perfume because someone else wears it and likes it is what many of us do. But then we never discover the scent that suits us. There are no rules to choosing a perfume, it’s a subjective and personal experience. But the perfume you end up with should underpin your character and send the right message. Your mom might love Dior’s Dune and so you bought a bottle for yourself but it might be a bit mature for you. Perhaps the lighter J’Adore is a better fit. You won’t know though until you try.
Spend some time exploring whether you like fresh and citrus scents or whether you’re more of a musk and patchouli woman. As you begin to understand the top notes that attract you, you’ll start understanding which fragrance notes work best with your skin and your natural smell. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could visit a bespoke perfumery and try your hand at creating your own personal fragrance.
If you need some further convincing, run a quick Google search on quotes about perfume and you’ll be astounded by just how much people have to say about it. Consider Paco Rabbane who was famously quoted as saying, “Say goodbye to the age-old stereotypes of seduction. Seductive, but not a seductress, a woman wears a scent to reveal her personality.”
Whatever you decide, the journey to discovering your signature scent should be a wondrous affair.